Fighter jets to escort Dutch squad back

14:30, July 11, 2010      

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An orange tram was riding around Amsterdam and the Defense Ministry announced that two F-16 fighter jets, one painted orange, will escort the Netherlands' plane home once it reaches Dutch air space on its way back.

Staff wore orange shirts in markets and shops across the nation of 16 million, hung the national red, white and blue flag along with orange banners outside.

Fans will mass in front of giant screens today in cities like Amsterdam, the capital, and Maastricht in the south, where authorities had to hire security staff from neighboring Belgium and Germany.

If the Netherlands win, the team will tour Amsterdam's web of canals in an open-topped boat on Tuesday and tens of thousands of fans are expected to line the route. City officials have made videos of the condition of a handful of house boats along the route to help assess claims in case they are damaged by over-exuberant fans clambering onto their roofs.

The Netherlands is in the global football showcase final for the first time since losing back-to-back title games in 1974 and 1978 to hosts West Germany and Argentina. Spain is in its first World Cup final.

Johan Cruyff, star of the 1974 Dutch team and later a standout player and coach at Barcelona, praised Spain coach Vicente Del Bosque for forging a cohesive team out of stars drawn from rival clubs Real Madrid and Barcelona.

However Cruyff also praised Netherlands coach Bert van Marwijk for reaching the final.

"You have to admire this team," Cruyff said of the Netherlands. "It is not built from the best players in the world, but it functions as an extremely strong team."

Cruyff, who now divides his time between Spain and his country of birth, did not predict who would win.

"I have links with both the Netherlands and Spain," he said. "Whatever the result, I win."

Source: Shanghai Daily


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